In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the crime of assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In general, we will find that a person faces assault charges if they inflict or attempt to inflict physical injury on another person. However, the level of the charge a person faces will depend on various factors related to each particular situation. Here, we want to discuss the difference between “assault” and “aggravated assault” under Pennsylvania law and discuss what it takes for a person to face felony charges in these situations.
Understanding the Levels of Assault in Pennsylvania
As we mentioned above, a person can face either simple assault or aggravated assault charges in Pennsylvania. The penalties for assault depend on the specific charge assigned, the victim, the defendant’s criminal history, and various other factors.
- Simple Assault. In PA, simple assault is generally a misdemeanor offense, and a person can face these charges if they:
- Intentionally or recklessly cause injury to another person
- Negligently causing bodily injury to another person while using a deadly weapon
- Attempt to put another person in fear of immediate serious bodily injury
- Intentionally strike a police officer or prison employee with a hypodermic needle
- Aggravated Assault. In PA, aggravated assault is a more serious criminal offense, and a person will generally face these charges if they:
- Attempt or intentionally cause serious bodily injury to another person
- Attempt, intentionally, or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to a police officer or other public servant
- Attempt or intentionally cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon
- Cause bodily injury to a teacher or other school employee
- Cause bodily injury to a minor under the age of 6
Additionally, aggravated assault charges will apply automatically if the assault is against certain government employees or public servants. This can include police officers, firefighters, district attorneys, public defenders, parking enforcement officers, EMS personnel, etc.
The Penalties for Assault: Is This a Felony?
When we look at the charges above, we will see that simple assault will typically result in a person facing a misdemeanor charge. That said, misdemeanor assault charges can still result in a person serving anywhere from one to five years in prison, depending on the victim and the other factors related to the charge.
If a person is charged with aggravated assault, they will typically be facing a first-degree felony or a second-degree felony. Conviction of a first-degree felony charge could result in a person receiving 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If a person is convicted of a second-degree felony charge for aggravated assault, they could face a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania Immediately
If you or somebody you love is facing assault charges in Pennsylvania, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Charges for aggravated assault must be taken seriously. The penalties for conviction on a felony assault charge are far too severe for a person to rely solely on a public defender to help them with their case. An attorney can analyze the facts of the situation and work with prosecutors in an attempt to get the charges reduced or dismissed.